Of Ashes and Dreams

Miles Budimir

The hospital where I was born

is now a field of dirt,

where weeds are being born anew,

and the elegant Victorian funeral home

just across the street

where I last saw my grandfather

in 1979,

a crumbling cement lot

fenced in by rusting loops of chain,

even the White Castle

is closed, “For Lease” 

posted in a window, 

a sure sign that something’s 

gone terribly wrong— 

at the scrapyard,

men with meaty, tattooed arms

toss refrigerators and aluminum siding,

radiators and copper plumbing,

into ever-growing piles 

of rustbelt dreams, 

earning their small rewards,

coin for their daily bread,

turning muddy water into wine— 

all the while, that 

miserly worm gnaws 

at our core,

pushes us out to edges 

of fickle foundations, 

aware that dust, like the Biblical preacher

told us, 

returns to dust, 

but spirit, maybe spirit, 

the hope that hovers over 

our emerald abyss,

our grey thawing hearts,

that fiery old bird,

keeps on keepin’ on, 

ridin’ the bonfire thermals 

of dreams.  

Author Bio

Milenko (Miles) Budimir is the author of two chapbooks: Departures (Burning River) and Rustbelt Romance (deep cleveland). His poems have appeared in a variety of publications, including most recently Show us Your Papers: An Anthology (Main Street Rag), Gasconade Review, Poetrybay, Pittsburgh Poetry Review, Great Lakes Review, and The Toledo Free Press, among others. His freelance writing has appeared in Balkanist and BELT. He works as a philosophy lecturer and technical writer and editor in the Cleveland area.